Sometimes it can be hard to know your legal rights when it comes to the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. At MyBump2Baby, we feel that it is really important to ensure that there is clear information on Grandparent’s rights.
For something that is so important, the information should be easy to access for all, especially in times of need. At MyBump2Baby we are proud to be home to trusted Family Law Solicitors throughout the UK that can help you with everything you need to know about Grandparent rights.
What are Grandparent’s Rights?
The Grandparents role is often a key part of their grandchild’s life; many grandparents help to bring their grandson or granddaughter up and support their learning and wellbeing from a young age. When the child s parents limit or stop access to grandchildren, it can be a really stressful time for grandparents, and the thought of potentially losing the opportunity to see their grandchildren grow up can cause a great deal of distress.
Grandchildren bring grandparents joy, and the role that grandparents play can be a vital part of young children’s lives. Sadly, sometimes when a relationship breaks down or when there is a dispute between family members ( son or daughter or parents of the child/children), it can be difficult for families to take responsibility and ensure the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren remains strong.
Parental responsibility lies with the mother and father (those named on the birth certificate) of the child or children and whilst some parents may wish to keep the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren the same after a family dispute, many parents may decide that they want to reduce or stop contact with the grandparent and grandchild altogether. Parents have parental responsibility which means they have the right to make decisions on behalf of their child.
Stopping grandparents ability to access their grandchildren can be a very distressing and a very sad time for grandparents; it is important that grandparents rights are shared so that grandparents can work out the best way for them to have contact with the child and be able to see their grandchild again.
Do Grandparents Have an Automatic Right to see their Grandchild?
Currently, in the UK (England and Wales), grandparents have no rights over their grandchildren, however, there are steps that they can take to change this. It’s important to note that the process is different in both Scotland and Wales. As well as grandparents not having the right to see their grandchildren, they also do not get automatic responsibility should anything happen to the parents of the child, the fact that grandparents don’t have access to grandchildren can cause huge distress.
Grandparents Rights to Access
Although grandparents have no legal rights and there is no instant access to grandchildren there are steps that can be taken to decide whether grandparents (extended family) can still have some contact with their grandchildren, these have been outlined below and please note that each situation is different and what is mentioned below is based on various scenarios.
Filing for Custody of a Grandchild
There are many reasons why grandparents would want to file for custody of a grandchild, these can include, but are not limited to, issues with the child’s welfare if they have been experiencing harm in any way, whether the parents are capable of caring for the child and the child’s emotional state. Grandparents can look to make an application for access but the court could look at the child arrangements as a whole. Family courts, of course, have the child s best interests at heart and the child s life and safety is their utmost priority.
These claims have to be looked at in great detail, which can take time. However, in some serious cases, social services may be involved, which is a different process altogether.
If social services are also involved, they will be asked to write a report based on the child after they have spoken to everyone involved in the situation, so they can gather a better view. You will need to complete an application which will be heard in court to decide whether or not your reasons are appropriate for making an application to the court for custody of a grandchild. Following this, the decision will be made where you either have custody over your grandchild or you don’t.
If your custody application is unsuccessful, it’s normal to feel upset and possibly worried about your grandchild. It’s important not to give up trying. You’ll also be interested in what your visitation rights and how you maintain contact with the children as a grandparent.
Can Grandparents Make an Application to the Court?
Whilst we previously stated that grandparents have no rights to see their grandchildren, this is obviously not an ideal situation, therefore there are a couple of options which can be looked into before you complete an application to the court.
Seeing your Grandchild Through Mediation
One option to potentially allow you to see your grandchild is through mediation. Mediation involves having a mediator perform an assessment which leads to an arrangement meaning you can see your grandchild regularly.
Discuss the Situation with the Parents
Another option, which is only possible if both parties agree to it, is an informal meeting between the family, with no one else present. The aim of this meeting is to allow everyone to discuss their own feelings around the situation and hopefully come to an arrangement.
Make an Application for a Court Order
If neither of these options appears to work, then you can apply for a court order. This is where the courts will get involved to decide the best outcome for your grandchildren. The court will decide if you can spend time with your grandchild. Family courts understand the importance of grandparents and take the importance of the relationship in to consideration. It is not often that a court would refuse the right for a grandparent to see their grandchild.
The court order will decide on:
- The communication method that people can have with the child, whether that’s face-to-face, over the phone or another method.
Every decision made by the court will have your grandchild as the priority.
What is Considered Reasonable Visitation for Grandparents?
After you have either sorted your visitation rights through an informal meeting, mediation or through a court order, you’ll have to make arrangements for your visitation rights. It can be hard to determine what is labelled as ‘reasonable visitation rights’ because every situation and family is different. One massive factor is the location of both parties, if you live locally to your grandchild, you may want to see them more often, however, if you live further away, once every few months may be more accurate for your situation. Whatever you decide, you should ensure that each member of the family is happy with the decision including the parent. Remember that these visitation rights are not set in stone, they can be altered where necessary and usually without the need for court.
Choosing the Right Lawyer for Grandparent’s Rights
It can be difficult to know what to do when trying to gain custody over a grandchild, it’s a stressful time for many grandparents that may lead to some upset. During this time, it may be a good idea to find a lawyer who can support you and advise you on your personal situation and legal rights. Going to court with no lawyer can be tough, you will have to represent yourself. If you are worried about money then there are still options available for you to have support within the courtroom. Do some research around your local area to find specific lawyers for grandparent’s rights. We have access to trusted and experienced family law solicitors throughout the UK, click here to find your local lawyer.
How can we help with Grandparent Custody Rights?
At MyBump2Baby, we are home to many family law solicitors around the UK. Our directory means that it’s easy for you to find a local and trusted family solicitor because we’ve found them for you. Each of the companies that we work with is specialists in dealing with family disputes, grandparents rights and finding the best outcome possible while offering you support and guidance along the way. We are proud to have these helpful businesses listed in our directory, who work hard to assist families all over the country. Find your trusted family law solicitors today.
What is a Child Arrangements Order?
Many grandparents ask about a child arrangement order and although courts do recognise this, this is often when the parents are in dispute over who is responsible for the care of the child or children
We think it’s really important to share key information on important topics such as grandparents rights. We hope this article has been useful to you.
Please note that every person and every situation is different which is why we encourage you to seek legal advice from experts when it comes to grandparents and grandchildren. Access to grandchildren can be difficult because if you have a dispute with the child’s parents it can be difficult to get your voice heard.
If you are a parent and you are in dispute with grandparents and you can see that grandparents have permission to apply to the courts. It can be difficult to understand what rights grandparents have and we would suggest speaking to your local family law solicitor to find out more information or perhaps you could speak to the grandparents and grandchildren to reach an agreement that keeps everyone happy in spite of any disputes.
MyBump2baby was registered in England in 2016. MyBump2baby is passionate about supporting families throughout the UK with experts.
Hi, I’m Emma and I’m MyBump2aby’s family law, protection and financial editor. I’m passionate about better-informing parents on their choices when it comes to family law and family protection and financial matters.